We Could Be Heroes

One of the most exciting ventures this year has been joining Paul Antony’s David Bowie tribute band Pop-Up Bowie.

Paul looks uncannily like the Thin White Duke, sounds like him and also has the moves. No wonder he was voted the UK’s Number 1 Bowie Act at the 2013 National Tribute Awards.

We played in Paul’s home town of Swanage a couple of weeks ago and the crowd was up dancing to Jean Genie, Heroes, Modern Love, Boys Keep Swinging and of course Let’s Dance.

I’ve always been a fan, but it’s only when you start playing the songs that you realise just how clever they are. Maybe it’s the vaudeville or European influence, but Bowie uses threes a lot, where the conventional rock/blues choice would be four. I don’t mean time signature, but rather the number of times a phrase repeats. I didn’t realise until I started having to count the bars, but then why would you – it would spoil the moment.

Judging by the response we’ve had in various theatres and arts centres around the country, there is clearly a market for Bowie’s music in a live context. Here’s hoping it goes on to even better things in 2015, possibly taking the show to audiences in Europe and Scandinavia.

 

Jimi and the B chord

From time to time you hear a story that is jaw-droppingly cool.

Last night I was chatting to a friend at the relaunched Waffle Club and the conversation turned to our first attempts at learning the guitar. He said that when he was 14 or 15 he was in a London music shop with a schoolfriend. Trying out the various exotic instruments and forcing his young hand into seemingly impossible contortions, another man in the shop came over and showed an interest.

My friend said that he could play E and A, but really struggled with B. Any guitarist will tell you that accomplishing a decent sounding barre chord was a major hurdle for the embryonic musician.

“Try this,” said the man, who demonstrated a couple of easier shapes for B that didn’t involve the unnatural stretch of the index finger. He went on to say that he was playing in a club that evening and invited the two boys along – aged 14 or 15 remember.

So who was this kindly guitar guru? None other than Jimi Hendrix.